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Toon Zone Was There: Anime USA Overview

For anyone asking what Anime USA is, it’s an anime convention. To be a little more direct to the point, Anime USA is an anime convention now in its 7th year held in Northern Virginia–as of late in the Sheraton Premiere Tyson’s Corner. For a convention that started with about 75 non-staff people, Anime USA now has over 3,400 dues-paying members within the organization, with over 3,700 people including guests, staff and panelists.

It was quite a madhouse in the building this year with only three elevators that access the entire 24-story structure. This was the last year for Anime USA in that pacticular facility, as the con has now outgrown the building. Next year Anime USA will move into Katsucon’s old location in Crystal City.

Compared to most other anime conventions, Anime USA was very laid back. The only really “big” guest they had this year that wasn’t one of the regulars on the convention circuit was MAX, an all-female music/dance group from Japan that has done some opening tunes for a few shows.

Anime USA did have one other music group: a collaboration between ADV/FUNimation voice actor Chris Patton and two of his friends from Houston–Frank Ortiz and Eric Dano–called P.L.I.D., pronounced, well, PLID. They were entirely electronica, singing over their drum machine with usually one person playing keys on stage. For a band still getting its bearings on what they want their stage show to be, they gave a very nice presentation.

Apart from the musical guests, there was the usual run of ADV/FUNi voice actors, with the notable inclusion of Crispin Freeman, who doesn’t make it out to east cost conventions very much. Greg Ayers, Chris Patton, Crispin Freeman, Monica Rial, Caitlin Glass, and Patrick Seitz (another westcoaster) all came out, giving the convention a wonderful “gathering of old friends” vibe, as most of them have been to at least one if not several Anime USA cons and countless other conventions as well.

Of course, con guests and concerts cover only part of the time. Taking out some time for the daily necessities such as eating and sleeping, you are still left with a lot of free time. So what do you do? You go to panels! Or you go to the Dealers’ room, or the video game room, or the artists’ gallery. There is a lot to do at Anime USA. I spent most of my time in various panels. I sat in on a few voice actors panels, some panels on classic anime/animation, a live recording of a commentary track by a fan-subbing group for their most recent release, and a few other panels I was interested in at the time.

For anyone who is a little frightened by the massive size that a lot of anime cons have grown to in recent years, a convention the size of Anime USA is a great way to test the waters to see if you actually enjoy these kinds of events before diving in headfirst to the larger ones. I definitely plan on attending Anime USA again next year.

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